So, you just found out you have bad links. It doesn’t feel good, does it? Maybe you unknowingly hired a black hat SEO agency a while back, you threw them some money and they promised you huge influxes in traffic. However, they never explained how they were making your traffic magically grow. Maybe they did explain that they would be linking to unrelated or low quality content sites in an attempt to improve visibility, but you didn’t fully understand. Whatever the circumstance may be, Google came along and slapped you with a big fat penalty. As an inbound marketer, unfortunately I hear this story all too often.
So now what?
Digging yourself out of this hole is not easy but it is possible. Get on Google’s good side again by following these key steps.
Step 1: Validate it’s a bad link problem
Before you go down the disavowment road, make sure that you in fact have bad links! One of the best & simplest tools out there to do this is the Moz Chrome Extension. Download the Mozbar to measure your website’s backlink profile. Once downloaded, open up the bar and click on links:
This will take you to the Moz Open Site Explorer. Scroll down to view all your inbound links to your page, subdomain, or your root domain and begin analyzing. Bad links tend to be easy to catch with the eye. For instance, I had a client that we discovered had hundreds of bad links being directed from a foreign link farm. This essentially was a website created to house links from everything to anything and had nothing to do with my client’s business. You’ll be able to see these URLs and click on them to check where they direct to and if they’re legit or not. You should also ask yourself three questions when analyzing links:
- Was this link made solely for SEO purposes?
- Does this link truly have the possibility of directing clients your way?
- Would you be worried if a Google employee or a competitor saw this link?
If after doing this you’ve found that you in fact have bad links, continue on to Step 2.
Step 2: Create An Audit Spreadsheet
I’ve gone about this two ways before. I’ve downloaded the links that showed up in Moz and have scrubbed the list so only what is deemed bad links are present. I’ve also downloaded the list straight from Search Console. Option #2 this is the simplest way, and what I’d recommend in most cases.
- On the Search Console homepage, chose the website you want
- On the Dashboard, click Search Traffic, and then click Links to Your Site
- Under Who links the most, click More.
- Click "Download More Sample Links". If you click "Download Latest Links", you’ll see dates as well
Use the downloaded file to create a .txt file that’s encoded in UTF-8 or 7 bit ASCII. It’s important to note this list will have ALL your links, even your good ones, so you’ll want to scrub the list and delete all good links from the file.
Step 3: Disavow Links
The final step is to upload your scrubbed list to Search Console.
- Go to the disavow links tool page
- Select your website
- Click "Disavow Links"
- Click "Choose file"
Disavowing bad links is not a quick fix. It will take time for Google to process the information you’ve uploaded. It also will take a while for Google’s bots to crawl your site so patience is necessary. Most links are disavowed within a month, but Google has said that it can take a full year for all of your links to get recrawled.
If you are experiencing trouble with your sites ranking and need some help digging yourself out of your possible penalty, reach out to AdVision. We are SEO Experts that are skilled with techniques to build your traffic organically and honestly.